My daughter’s tennis coach calls her The Juggernaut. She hasn’t lost a match all season, and he says once she gets started (like a juggernaut), she’s unstoppable. That got me thinking about my vocation. Am I a juggernaut? Do I want to be?
As most of you know, I’m a writer. I wrote as a child, I got my BA and MA in writing, I was a professional writer for several years after graduating, and now I’m a fiction writer. So, in some respects, it’s easy to say that I am a juggernaut, because once I started writing as a child, I never stopped.
But what about currently?
I submit short stories to publications and contests. My first novel, Mystery, Ink.: Mystery Heir, was recently published. I have the first of a four part series with an agent, and I’m almost done with the second installment. I’m always writing. Or editing. Or reading.
Is that enough?
Is working daily toward your goal enough to say you’re unstoppable? (tweet this)
I say no, it’s not.
I write daily. But do I write long enough? Hard enough? With quality results?
Some days, yes. Some, no. I waste time on social media sites. I meet friends. I talk too long on the phone. Sometimes I even take a television break.
Not really qualities of a juggernaut.
The breaks I take could be good as moments of recharging. But some are just time-sucks. I know I need to do better.
But when I’m on? When the words are flowing from my mind through my fingers and the clacking of the keys beats an almost frenetic rhythm? Then I am The Juggernaut.
Sure. Breaks are okay. Too many are not. (tweet this)
I don’t know that I could sustain the pace of fulltime juggernaut writing, if I could maintain my sanity being in uber-writing mode all the time. It’s exhilarating, but it’s also exhausting. At the end of a productive day, I’m not just mentally wiped out; I’m physically beat.
So is there a solution?
Here are the five steps toward approaching unstoppability without burning out.
- Set small goals.
Telling yourself you have to clean the whole house, build a large pergola, write a whole novel… those can be monumental tasks. But telling yourself you have to dust one room, dig eight post holes, or write one chapter… much more easily attainable, especially before needing a break.
- Eliminate distractions.
Your goals are smaller now, how do you make sure you reach them? Turn off your phone. Shut down your email. Don’t even think about turning on the television. Once you’ve taken your vice (or vices) out of play, you’ll find it’s much easier to get on a roll.
- Play music.
This may not work for everyone, but I find if I have music on , I work better. And faster. Make sure your selections are in a genre you both like and find motivational. It would be kind of hard to train for a marathon if you were running to slow love songs. (And yes, I do have the Rocky Soundtrack in my playlist.)
- Reward goal achievement.
Vices are vices for a reason: they’re hard to say no to. So don’t. Once you reach your new smaller, attainable goal, reward that accomplishment. Check your Twitter stream. Call your best friend. Just make sure you don’t give in to your time-sucking activity until you’ve earned the right.
- Don’t take long breaks.
You did it. You focused, eliminated distractions, and hit your target. You just finished your reward. DO NOT START ANOTHER TIME-SUCKING ACTIVITY! You allowed yourself time to check your email. Maybe you returned a few texts. Instead of doing something else on your distraction list, start working again. When you hit your goal, you’ll get another reward.
We can’t be juggernauts all the time, but being one in short bursts much of the time will lead to more and stronger end products. Follow these steps and you’ll find yourself creating new habits—productive habits—that will benefit you for years to come.
Do you have any suggestions? A juggernaut story you’d like to share? You know what to do…